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From the Pointe du Hourdel to the Marquenterre park, a wild getaway in the Bay of Somme

2021-09-28T00:36:22.297Z

Labeled Grand Site de France, the Bay of Somme, in Hauts-de-France, offers the ideal setting for a weekend in the great outdoors.



Bewitching, bewitching, enchanting ... How many artists and intellectuals have fallen under the spell of this bay, member of the popular club of the most beautiful in the world.

Less than two hours by train from Paris, the Bay of Somme, on the Picardy coast, seduces with its wild beauty, its brightly colored sky and its sea which, to the rhythm of the tides, empties and fills the estuary with rapidity. disconcerting.

Colette thus described in 1910 a "

treacherous and furtive

"

sea

which covers "

its twenty kilometers of beach with the silent speed of a serpent

".

At low tide, it is a sandy-muddy plain that stretches as far as the eye can see, an inexhaustible reservoir for the birds who have called it over since the dawn of time. "

The Bay of Somme is the equivalent of a service station on the Migration Highway

", fun to say Arnaud Lengignon, native hiking guide of Crotoy. When the Channel regains its rights, the bay turns into a natural aquarium for the largest colony of seals and calves in the country. While at the mouth of the Somme, the salt meadows welcome sheep and shepherds, fishermen on foot and a multitude of herbs and aromatic plants (sea buckthorn, samphire, sea arroches and many others) whose cooks have very quickly tamed the virtues.

Wild destination par excellence, integrated into a reserve classified because of its rich biodiversity, the Bay of Somme is discovered between land and sea, along its shores and in the heart of its old authentic fishing ports, but also offshore. , feet in the water, from the sandbanks of Hourdel to the ornithological park of Marquenterre.

Read alsoFrom the Bay of the Somme to the Château de Chantilly, the Hauts-de-France in twelve unmissable sites

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, a medieval town facing the bay

Houses on Quai Blavet in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme.

STANISLAS FAUTRE / Le Figaro Magazine

Standing on a limestone promontory on the south coast of the bay, the medieval town of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme invites you to stroll. Along its dike and its pretty mansions, weaving through its cobbled and flowery alleys lined with half-timbered houses, you can feel the rich history of this flourishing former fishing port which saw William the Conqueror, Joan of Arc pass by. but also the painters Eugène Boudin and Edgar Degas as well as Victor Hugo. After crossing the Porte de Nevers, built in the 16th century, one marvels in the alleys of the herbarium of the ramparts, a botanical garden created in the 19th century where medieval medicinal plants thrive, before climbing to the chapel of the Sailors from which one enjoys a unique panorama of the bay. Sunday morning,the place des Pilotes and the rue de la Ferté come alive with the market while the whistling of the steam train announces the arrival of new visitors.

The bay, feet in the water or by bike

The colony of seals and calves in the Bay of Somme is the largest in the country.

Adobe Stock / pascal

Much more than a sublime masterpiece, the Bay of Somme is an incredible setting for a multitude of plant and animal species.

Nothing beats a dive in the heart of the estuary to understand the richness and complexity of its ecosystem.

Natives of the region, Arnaud and Aurore have been organizing, since 2001 with their association Découvrons la baie de Somme, nature outings, including a 6 km hike between Saint-Valery and Le Crotoy.

An educational crossing with the feet in the water during which these two passionate guides endeavor to explain the functioning of this unique natural environment in which each species occupies a very specific place.

A little further offshore, near the Pointe du Hourdel, the sandbanks turn at low tide into resting places for some 200 seals and calves in the bay. To admire this marvelous spectacle, you have to embark on board the Polynesian canoes of the Club de kayak de mer et de va'a de la Baie des seals. These traditional boats, fast and stable, allow you to travel about fifteen kilometers and approach this protected colony, while respecting a distance of 300 meters so as not to disturb them while they sleep. “

When the sea rises, the seals jump into the water and do not hesitate to approach the canoes,

” explains François, a member of the club. “

You have to be patient but we are often rewarded

He adds. During this excursion, the guides, present in each of the canoes, deliver a thousand anecdotes and legends about the environment of the bay. A walk as educational as it is spectacular.

On land, the Bay of Somme also has no shortage of surprises.

With 44 kilometers of cycle paths, it is a great playground for cyclists who can cycle at their own pace between villages and salt meadows.

To get off the beaten track, the instructors of the Vélo en Baie de Somme association offer a

24-kilometer sporting

"

little tour of the bay

" to "

discover nature at its heart

".

From the station of Noyelles-sur-Mer to the mouth of the Maye, at the gates of the Marquenterre park, we cross the paths of the hinterland and the wet meadows covered with reeds which welcome a host of migrating birds. .

The opportunity to meet, according to the seasons, storks, herons, huts and egrets.

Le Crotoy, a seaside town with old-fashioned charm

The picturesque port of Crotoy. Adobe Stock / PackShot

On the other side of the bay, the seaside town of Crotoy prides itself on having the only beach in the north facing south. This former fishing port, which was among the most important in the English Channel in the 17th century, today retains a picturesque atmosphere with its fishermen's houses, beach huts and family homes facing the sea. More popular than its rival. Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, Le Crotoy has however also attracted many artists, charmed by its peaceful alleys and by the clear horizon that the village offers on the bay. Colette, the perfumer Guerlain and even Jules Verne stayed there, contributing to its tourist boom. At Le Crotoy, we bask on the terrace in front of imposing seafood platters at the Tourelles restaurant, wedozes off on the beach before the lifeguards come to alarm the rising water, we go back to the tradition of Liège waffles at the Victor Florent bakery, we take advantage of this sweet parenthesis that passes, as always, far too quickly.

Read also What are the closest beaches to Paris?

The Marquenterre park, refuge for migratory birds

The Marquenterre nature reserve.

STANISLAS FAUTRE / Le Figaro Magazine

At the northern end of the bay, the Marquenterre park, which is part of the regional nature reserve of the Bay of Somme, has been a Mecca for ornithology in Europe for forty years. Due to its strategic position on the migration route, its 200 hectares of dunes, forests and marshes welcome thousands of birds of more than 300 species that pass each year between the Far North and West Africa. . Waders, waders, passerines, spoonbills, oystercatchers, white-fronted geese… Thirteen observation posts line the course and offer visitors the chance to admire them in complete freedom, while benefiting from the lighting of the park's naturalist guides. An essential getaway to end this wild escape in the Bay of Somme.

Read alsoThe getaway of the week: in Marquenterre, a floating ecolodge

Practical notebook

GO

1h40 by TER or 2h15 by car from Paris (Gare du Nord) to Noyelles-sur-Mer.

MOVE

Returned to service in 1970, the Somme Bay railway makes it possible to tour the estuary as far as Cayeux-sur-Mer.

Between Le Crotoy and Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, four connections are provided daily.

To plan your trips, go to chemindefer-baiedesomme.fr

OR SLEEP

The Hôtel des Tourelles in Le Crotoy.

STANISLAS FAUTRE / Le Figaro Magazine

In Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, book one of the 25 rooms at

Hôtel Les Pilotes

, the majority of which offer a superb view of the bay.

An establishment that combines refinement and elegance, in a vintage spirit.

On the ground floor, with a terrace facing the sea, the restaurant serves bistronomic cuisine that highlights local and seasonal products in a friendly atmosphere.

Les Pilotes, 62, rue de la Ferté, 80230 Saint-Valery-sur-Somme.

Phone.

: 03 22 60 80 39. Price: From 70 to 240 €.

Away from the bay, in the town of Forest-Montiers,

La Tour-Blanche

is a haven of peace surrounded by nature.

On the edge of the Crécy forest, Hélène and Benoît welcome you to this 18th century chateau which has four guest rooms as well as a cottage located by a pretty swimming pool.

All hidden in a wooded park of five hectares dotted with orchards and meadows where Henson horses graze, an emblematic breed of the Bay of Somme.

La Tour Blanche, 10 rue de la Ville, 80120 Forest-Montiers.

Phone.

: 06 88 61 31 62. Price: from 130 €.

In Le Crotoy,

the Hôtel des Tourelles

with its red facade is an institution.

Inaugurated in 1994 in a property built at the end of the 19th century, this 35-room establishment with the air of a family house plays the card of simplicity and conviviality.

Living room, playroom for children, garden, terrace… Everything is done to make visitors feel at home, pampered by available and friendly staff.

Les Tourelles, 2-4 rue Pierre Guerlain, 80550 Le Crotoy.

Phone.

: 03 22 27 16 33. Price: 80 to 140 €.

WHERE TO EAT

In Saint-Valery-sur-Somme

After starting their careers in beautiful Parisian establishments (Lasserre, Shangri-La, Le 52 ...), Marie and Étienne Vilfroy returned to the land of their childhood vacations by opening their restaurant, soberly called

Baie

, in early 2019

.

A table d'hôtes with 16 seats which showcases finely selected local products through a short and tempting menu.

Friendliness and sharing are the key words of the owners who are committed to offering perfectly executed raw cuisine.

Restaurant Baie, 30 rue de la Ferté, 80230 Saint-Valery-sur-Somme.

Open Monday to Thursday from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from noon to 1:30 p.m. and from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Phone.

: 03 22 26 65 12.

It is the most beautiful spot in the bay to admire the sunset.

Away from the city center, having a drink with your feet in the sand at the

Buvette de la plage

will remain a memorable memory of your stay.

La Buvette de la plage, 455 quai Jeanne d'Arc, 80230 Saint-Valery-sur-Somme.

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight.

Phone.

: 03 22 30 45 79.

In Crotoy

The hotel

Les Tourelles

has a good restaurant which benefits from a quiet terrace facing the sea. On the menu: family cuisine that gives pride of place to seafood. Do not miss the unmissable shrimp croquettes!

Restaurant Les Tourelles, 2-4 rue Pierre Guerlain, 80550 Le Crotoy.

Open every day from noon to 2 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).

Phone.

: 03 22 27 16 33.

With audacity and creativity, Pascal Lefebvre orchestrates the cuisine of

the Auberge de la Marine

and prepares dishes as good as they are beautiful which change with the seasons.

To try: the navarin of lamb from the salt meadows of the Bay of Somme for a 100% local meal.

Auberge de la Marine, 1 rue Florentin Lefils, 80550 Le Crotoy.

Open every evening except Tuesday, and for lunch from Friday to Monday.

Phone.

: 03 22 27 92 44.

When it comes to snack time,

you have to rush

to the

Victor Florent bakery

.

For nearly 60 years, Claude and Mick Colombel, legendary couple from the region, have animated the seaside with their waffle truck.

The cessation of their activity caused great sadness for Victor Debil-Caux who decided, in April 2021, to revive the snack of his childhood.

Plain or sprinkled with sugar, its Liège waffles were quick to attract all the city's gourmets who flock to their bakery every day.

Victor Florent bakery, 59 rue de la Porte du Pont, 80550 Le Crotoy.

Open every day from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. (waffles only from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.).

ACTIVITIES

Hiking in the bay

with the Découvrons la baie de Somme association.

Itinerary "The legendary tour of the bay" from Le Crotoy (6 km), offered all year round except when the tidal coefficients exceed 100.

Contact: Arnaud Lengignon, 06 83 72 02 83. Price: 14 €.

Children accepted from 5 years old.

Polynesian canoe trip

to meet the Hourdel seals (marine safari) with the Seal Bay Sea Kayak and Va'a Club, departing from Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, from April to October.

Requirements: know how to swim and be in good physical condition for paddling.

Contact: 03 22 60 08 44. Price: 45 € for adults, 30 € for children (accepted from 8 years old).

The small tour of the bay by bike

with the association Vélo en Baie de Somme, 24 km loop departing from Noyelles-sur-Mer station, from April to the end of October.

Contact: 03 22 29 07 51. Price: 31 € for adults, 19 € for children (accepted from 11 years old), including mountain bike rental.

All-terrain practice that requires you to be in good physical condition.

ASK ABOUT

The Somme Bay Tourist Office has an information point in Le Crotoy (1 rue Carnot, 03 22 23 62 65) and in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme (57/59 quai Lejoille, 03 22 60 93 50 ).

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2021-09-28

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